KHERSON: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called the Russian withdrawal from Kherson "the beginning of the end of the war" on Monday as he met with soldiers in the southern city.
The liberation of Kherson after a grinding offensive that forced Russian to pull back its forces from the city was one of Ukraine's biggest success so far of the nearly nine-month invasion and a stinging blow for the Kremlin.
Zelenskyy said that the country's "strong army" was persistently reclaiming the territories taken by Russia since its invasion while also acknowledging the difficulties and the heavy human toll.
The Ukrainian army has now reclaimed three major areas of the country in its counteroffensives — the area north of Kyiv, the northeastern region of Kharkiv and now Kherson and many neighbouring settlements.
Zelenskyy has previously appeared unexpectedly in other front-line zones at crucial junctures of the war, to support troops and congratulate them for battlefield exploits.
Video footage showed Zelenskyy waving to residents who waved at him from an apartment window and yelled "Glory to Ukraine!" The reply "Glory to the heroes!" came back from Zelenskyy's group, made up of soldiers and others.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Monday refused to comment on Zelenskyy's visit to Kherson, saying only that "you know that it is the territory of the Russian Federation".